As I’ve mentioned before, Charles Prempeh, our graduate student assistant on the Ghana Semester, is full of so much knowledge about the culture here. We are extremely blessed by him. He doesn’t know the North of the country well, so we will take another Northern guide along with us on that trip. Anyway, Charles knows many Ghanaian proverbs, including the title of this blog entry:
“After suffering starvation, eat with only one hand.”
You think about the meaning of that for yourself, but I was thinking about it in terms of the spiritual retreat we just took the students on to the Akrofi Christaller Institute in Akropong, which is situated in the hills above Accra.
On our way to Akropong we stopped at the Aburi Botanical Gardens – learning about all of the incredible plant life that is in this country. These are just a few of the photos we took there (you can see all of them on our Facebook page Calvin Ghana Semester). My favorite plant of all was the nutmeg as seen here. Such an incredible piece of God’s creation! And so tasty in Apple pie! (I’ve promised the students I would eventually make Apple pie while we’re here).
It was a beautiful three day retreat where we spend the first evening learning about the Institute itself and the history of the Presbyterian missions in Ghana. The institute was founded by one of these missionaries who began a long legacy of Christianity in the country. Now the institute is a theology school, giving out masters and Ph.D. degrees focusing on the study of African Christianity. And it’s just a wonderful place to visit, so if you ever have the chance…..!
After our first night and a bit of a battle to get water in our hostel so that we could all bathe, we awoke the next morning to spend the day learning about Ghanaian customs and worship, Christian Islamic relations in Ghana, and many of the underlying ideas about the concept of indigenous worship mixing with Christianity, which is a major feature of African Christianity. We also watched this wonderful documentary about African Christianity by James Alt. It hasn’t been released yet, but I hope he does it soon so that the rest of the world can see what ‘s happening in Africa with the spread of the gospel! Such exciting stuff…wish everyone could see it!
On Friday we spent the entire day hiking and basking in Boti Falls where the students bravely swam in the water and took an incredibly strenuous hike up to Umbrella rock. Take a look at some of these wonderful photos!
We returned to Legon and spent the evening on our own.
One of the things we created on our journey is a group covenant. Each person’s hand is on the convenant, outlined there with personal symbols, and we committed together to things like taking risks together, supporting patience and piece, learning and developing our spiritual disciplines together, and making sure that we don’t allow technology to dominate our lives while we are in Ghana. Together we prayed over the covenant and dedicated ourselves to it and we ask for your prayers as we continue our journey together.
Here’s a picture of the covenant we created first back at my home in Grand Rapids last May and we finished it up in Akropong.
We are full of new life here, and trying to eat with only one hand, taking in this culture bit by bit because it can become overwhelming at times!